By Julianne Mosher
You don’t have to be an avid reader of the classics to appreciate Theatre Three’s latest offering. The main stage production of Daniel Elihu Kramer’s Pride @ Prejudice is a mix of a telling of the 19th century novel written by Jane Austen and a clever modernization of the 1813 classic that explains the book with humor and wit.
The story is of Miss Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy who fall in love all over again — this time filtered through the world of the internet. Modern voices interject and build on this classic love story in the form of blog posts, chat room discussions, quotes from film adaptations, and even letters from Jane Austen herself to create a delightfully postmodern view of 19th century England.
Directed by Jeffrey Sanzel, the show opened on April 7 to a full house. While the cast is small (just five people) each of their personalities are big. Most of the actors play at least two characters who go between present-day and the book’s settings of Netherfield Park and Longbourn.
And each performer had the audience laughing. Christine Boehm (who plays Elizabeth Bennet) plays the protagonist well, leading with poise but also leads some laughs. Throughout the play, the actors make several references to the culture behind Pride and Prejudice, poking fun at the three major film adaptations (and a miniseries starring Colin Firth in the 90s).
Ashley Brooke’s rendition of the eccentric and dramatic Mrs. Bennet (who’s trying to marry off all five of the daughters —yes, there are five) is hysterical. Michelle LaBozzetta was able to switch between different characters with ease, including Jane Bennet, Caroline Bingley and as Jane Austen — which was another interesting part of the show.
While deconstructing certain scenes, the actors would recite real letters that Jane Austen wrote to her sister during her lifetime, noting how her personal life impacted the books she was writing. Not only was the play entertaining, but for people who didn’t know much about the author, you were able to get a bit of history, as well.
Andrew Murano played seven people and also did so skillfully. Each one varied — he played a doctor, a footman, Mr. Bennet, Mr. Bingley, Sir William, Mr. Wickham, Mr. Gardiner and Colonel Fitzwilliam —and when appropriate, he played them with humor.
David DiMarzo, who is new to Theatre Three, played the charming and desirable Mr. Darcy, as well as Mr. Collins, and showed us that he needs to stay. His ability to play the dreamy love interest of Lizzie, but also the snobbish Collins was impressive to say the least.
And if that sounds confusing to you, it might seem that way, but the performance on stage explains it better. While all five are in 19th century costumes, they do a great job of expressing themselves through their facial expressions and body language. They certainly give it their all.
The set allows the audience to use their imagination. Three sets of doors are toward the back of the stage and is utilized often to show transitions between the settings and time periods. What’s also interesting is the use of a projector at the top of the stage that shows images of the houses they are currently in, or websites where “Pride and Prejudice” merch is on sale (it’s a joke).
Some jokes might go over your head if you didn’t read the book — so a quick read of a summary or even a refresher of the whole novel could definitely help — but it’s still enjoyable for those looking for a fun night out as this show was definitely not an easy production. Regardless of your knowledge of 19th century literature, this show is one for the books.
Pride @ Prejudice is playing at Theatre Three, located at 412 Main Street in Port Jefferson, until May 6. Tickets are $35 adults, $28 seniors and students, $20 children ages 5 to 12. Wednesday matinees are $20. For more information or to order, contact the box office at 631-928-9100 or visit www.theatrethree.com.